The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and Donald Trump’s failed coup attempt, held its fourth public hearing on June 21, which focused on the pressure exerted by Trump and his lawyers on election officials to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory. Multiple state and local election officials spoke about the intense harassment and protests targeting them in the aftermath of the election.
Shaye Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, and her mother Ruby Freeman were the target of Trump’s false allegation that they were colluding to commit voter fraud. The two black women then received hundreds of death threats and white supremacists attempted to break into their home, forcing the mother and daughter to leave their house for two months. Republican officials including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers recounted the death threats they and their families received after refusing to submit to Trump’s demand to subvert their state’s election results. Hundreds more officials received similar threats of violence from Trump supporters across the country.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Wajahat Ali, a Daily Beast columnist and author, who discusses the political violence embraced by today’s Republican Party and his recent article, “Name and Shame White Christian Nationalism, the Ideology Behind Jan. 6.” Ali is also author of the book, Go Back To Where You Came From: And, Other Helpful Recommendations on Becoming American.
WAJAHAT ALI: Christian nationalism is the theory or the ideology — for those who don’t know — that America is a special nation, divinely favored by God but entrusted to white Christian men. There’s a patriarchy at place here, as its sovereign protector. And it is the duty of these men, these white Christian men, to implement and spread the kingdom of heaven on Earth.
And as such, this goal, this ideology, this righteous celestial mission, is under threat and under attack, active attack by invaders. And those invaders include feminists, gays, Jews, people of color, Muslims, immigrants and basically anyone who opposes their proposed theocratic state.
And scholars of Christian nationalism came out with this big study that, if it was any other group, it would have been major news, but it wasn’t — in February, that said, that one of the major drivers of the Jan. 6 violent insurrection, this ongoing coup, as you said, was white Christian nationalism. The slogans, the mantras, the symbols, it was all there. It’s all present. And you’re seeing now, I gave it a name, but there’s several other names. But Doug Mariano, the man who overwhelmingly won the Republican gubernatorial primary for Pennsylvania — open Christian nationalist, right? Openly espousing this rhetoric.
And now you see that merged with QAnon and the Replacement Theory, these very dangerous conspiracy theories, and you’re hearing these terminologies — the Democrats and liberals, wear the mark of the beast, right? This type of Christian nationalist rhetoric that apparently we are part of this international cabal, Satan worshipers, evil men and women who are trying to indoctrinate and kill their children.
And so if you truly believe that you are, to quote the Blues Brothers, “on a mission from God and that the rest of us are evil, literally evil Satan worshipers or wearing the mark of the beast who’re coming after your kids.” Will you then not use violence, Scott, to protect your children, your faith and your country? And the answer, if you look at the polls and I know you do the show and you’ve talked about this is Yes, which is why we’re seeing a huge this is not a small minority, a large minority up to a third of Republicans who are fine with using violence to take back their country from us, the invaders and the evil-doers. It’s a dangerous time. We’re living in.
SCOTT HARRIS: I share with many people in our audience frustration that the Democrats’ response to this violent, fascist threat from a large majority of what we see in the Republican party today is fairly tepid. You don’t have an aggressive pushback against these anti-democratic activists in the Republican party, and they seem to come equipped with a pillow to a gunfight.
They seem to have no message to counter the constant barrage of violent threats coming from the Republican party activists. Where does this Democratic party need to go, in your view?
WAJAHAT ALI: I agree with you. They’re not built for this fight. They’re not made for this moment. They’re just not. And unfortunately, I think a large part of it is you have a lot of wealthy white men and women who are part and parcel of a romanticized institution from halcyon days. And they think they can just drink rum and smoke cigars and be buddy buddies with these folk people, right?
Like when Joe Biden is calling these folks irrational actors and they’re calling Joe Biden a pedophile. It’s like the analogy I give, like Charlie Brown and Lucy. “All right, Lucy. You won’t lift the football this time will you, this time?” Lucy goes, “Nope.” And then what happens? Lucy lifts the football and Charlie Brown falls on his ass.
That is my analogy for every single institution in America. And if you’re a student, of history, you know that usually corporations and major institutions kind of always, if you will, line the road to fascism, right? They always befriend the fascist and think they can accommodate them and think they can win them over and think they can pacify them.
And then what happens? The fascist always takes over and crushes them. And so I feel like that is the makeup of the Democratic party right now. It’s that you have these young bucks who are seen as radicals, who are completely ignored by the establishment who oftentimes play by these old rules and have, you know, who court the moderates and the white vote that has since long since abandoned them for 50 years.
And what they need to do is they need to friggin’ put on their brass knuckles and fight. You have to punch a bully in the mouth. That doesn’t mean you give up your ethics, your values or morals, but you have to first and foremost name the threat. Call them out for extremists. Fascists. Traitors. Then use your majority and flex your power.
Example is these hearings. Use the bully pulpit almost like Trump did. Like, you know, Biden can. When Biden fights back and Democrats fight back, look what happens. People rise up.
I’ll give you one quick example. I know we’re running out of time, right? When Mallory McMorrow, I believe that’s her name, took her four-and-a-half minutes on TV to fight back against these atrocious claims that she was a pedophile. What happened? Massive groundswell, huge respect. She got money. People are like, Yeah!
When Elizabeth Warren got out and like, you know, raised hell, when we read the draft leaked opinion of Alito overturning — what happened, people were like, Yeah! When this guy in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, you know, raising hell against MAGA. He has a nine-point lead on Memet Oz.
What do people want? They want fire. They want passion. And if you give them that passion, you give them that fight, you will win over the base and the majority. I hope, I hope, I hope the DNC recognizes it. I don’t think they do.